Security Information AgencyБезбедносно-информативна агенција

All BIA resources engaged in completing ICTY cooperation

BIA in media / Tanjug - March 3, 2009

Director of the Security Information Agency (BIA), Saša Vukadinović stated today that ‘all the available resources of BIA’ are engaged in locating and arresting the two remaining Hague fugitives which is the most difficult task in Serbia at the moment.
“One of the basic rules of operational work is never to discuss actions while they are underway. Rest assured that all available resources are currently engaged in solving the most difficult task in Serbia at the moment the importance of which goes beyond all the defined competencies of the Agency”, Vukadinović said in an interview to Tanjug news agency which is his first interview since assuming his duties as Director of BIA in July 2008.

He repeated the statement he had already given in the mid-October at the reception on the occasion of 109th anniversary of the security agency that the Agency will do everything in its power to extradite the Hague fugitives in order to unblock the association process to EU.

Being asked about the grounds on which are based the statements of Rasim Ljajić, Minister and Coordinator of the Serbian government’s Action Team for Finalization of Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, that the arrest of Ratko Mladić appears more certain, Vukadinović said that Ljajić and War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević “have access to all the information and findings collected by the country’s security agencies including BIA”.

Through their daily activities, Ljajić and Vukčević are in a position to see that all state structures are fully determined to complete the job, which is of vital national interest.

“The Agency is doing everything, within the limits of its actual capacities, to successfully carry out the task it had been assigned to. I believe that minister Ljajić recognized and took into account such approach when he stated that”, Director of BIA said for the national agency.

Vukadinović underlined that the Agency has close cooperation with other subjects of Serbia’s security and intelligence system, as well as with other competent state authorities, which is based on principles of strict distribution of competencies and partnership.

“Cooperation is intensive, almost on a daily basis and very satisfactory. We are trying to be a constructive partner in every occasion. The Agency operates under its basic principles, which are compliance with the Constitution and Law, efficiency and professional work”, Vukadinović said.

“I would particularly like to emphasize that cooperation among the subjects of our country’s security system has gained quality by forming the National Security Council as a central state body for coordinating and directing of the work of security and intelligence services in Serbia”, Vukadinović added.

According to his words, the operational body of the Council is the Office for security services’ coordination which, on a regular basis, performs its tasks on operational coordination. The Director is convinced that this is the most important step in building the overall security system which will be able to address the needs of the Republic of Serbia.
Being asked how helpful the citizens’ tips are in the search for ICTY fugitives, Vukadinović explained that “there are numerous calls that seem to be very serious and they are all being checked”.

“However, not a single call has so far brought us directly to an arrest of the Hague indictees, but some of them have significantly contributed to the investigation”, Vukadinović stressed. Being asked about cooperation with media, he assessed that it was “relatively good” and it can be qualified as satisfactory, especially having in mind that the Agency’s communication with media has only recently been established and based on beforehand determined principles. He said that media were expected to understand a specific nature of the work that was in Agency’s competence. “In that respect, I always suggest journalists to ask everything that is of their interest but they will be denied an answer only in cases when regulations and protection of national security oblige us to do so”, Vukadinović emphasized.

According to him, “in the era of total globalization of communications, we are ready and willing to help media to fulfill their role, being fully aware that in a well-organized, democratic society the mass media represent indispensable form of power control, even the operational control of security services”.

“However, I must point out that there is a tendency to speak and write about the Agency in a sensationalistic way, which often diminishes objectiveness. There is a common trend in Serbian public to either underestimate or overestimate the role of the Agency. In both cases, those who strongly support either of the options out of beliefs, prejudice or some other reason make a serious mistake”, Vukadinović assesed.

Being asked how he explains the fact that the very term Security or Secret Service raises the negative connotations in public, most frequently connected with the authority - tapping, arrest, surveillance, physical punishment, killing of ideological opponents- he pointed out that one of “the most frequently used inadequate statements related to the Agency is ‘The Secret Police’”: “Firstly, we are not secret service, the proof of which is this interview, and according to the legal standards - we are not police either. What is considered to be a secret are the working methods and information as a subject of our interest, given that under the definition and the law, the Agency is primarily interested in classified information”. 

“Burden of the past has a consequence the fact that the individuals from the various social classes, the number of which is lessening, I hope, view the Agency in a way you expressed in your question”, explained the Director of BIA.

Vukadinović stressed that “the Agency neither can not nor want to turn a blind eye in view of the fact that some of its members, in a distant or near past, misused the public institution, their position and powers”. However, he reminded that “each of them has the name and the surname, and criminal liability is individualized”. It deserves every respect the capability of society as a whole and legal system of the Republic of Serbia to deal in a proper way with such cases and individuals, with the final epilogue at court. The Agency itself gave a significant contribution to those efforts, Vukadinović stated.

However, he emphasized that what was unjustifiable in the whole story were the stances of individuals, even the distinguished intellectuals and legal experts, who were prone to generalizing and accusing the whole Agency as an institution. “I am able to understand even such stances, but I must underline that it doesn’t benefit the reorganization processes and reforms of the civil security services in Serbia. Such stances are also in many respects unjust towards most members of the Agency, who decently, professionally and conscientiously, within the limits of their actual abilities, perform an extremely hard work of the highest importance for the country”, he added.

Concerning the involvement of people from BIA in many cases among which are the assassinations of Ivan Stambolić, the journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, attempt of assassination of Vuk Drašković, Vukadinović explained, as he had previously mentioned that “it is the case of the most hideous misuse of powers on the part of the individuals, who had committed - under the cover of the Ministry of State Security- the most serious criminal acts and there is no excuse for that”.

“Each person must be held responsible for his acts. We have been given specific powers pursuant to the Law, and thus obliged us to great responsibility, what we should bear in mind when making each and every decision”, Vukadinović concluded.